Meet the New Stars: Joe Pavelski

After losing to the St. Louis Blues in double overtime of Game 7 in the Western Conference Semifinals, general manager Jim Nill made it his goal to add depth to the Dallas Stars’ forward lines. A few quick calls later netted him Joe Pavelski, the former captain of the San Jose Sharks. Shortly after, Pavelski signed a three-year, $21-million contract with the Stars. Fresh off a disappointing second-round exit, he will no doubt look to add his high-powered offense to the Stars, a team desperate for depth scoring.

Pavelski’s work ethic and lethal shot will have an immediate impact on the Stars’ roster. His natural ability to lead, coupled with his unrelenting drive to win, will serve Dallas both on and off the ice. Last season, he scored 38 goals and 64 points, utilizing his high hockey IQ and deft passing ability to breathe life into his linemates. Today, we’ll be looking at how Pavelski performed in San Jose and what he can bring to the table in Dallas as a leader and a lethal threat on the ice.

Pavelski’s Sharks Role

Pavelski served as captain of the San Jose Sharks over the last four seasons. During that time, he led the team to four consecutive playoff appearances, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2016. The team seemed to rally around Pavelski, relying on him through frustrating seasons and heart-pounding games alike. His teammates loved him so much that they laid everything on the line for him when he went down with an injury during last year’s playoff appearance, winning one of the most intense overtime games in the team’s history.

From the tough interviews after the Sharks lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2016 Stanley Cup Final to his relentless tenacity in the playoffs, Pavelski has shown that he’s willing to go above and beyond for his team through the good times and the bad. His presence will be sorely missed in San Jose for multiple reasons; they’ve lost the face of their franchise and a player who led the team with 38 goals last season.

San Jose Sharks Joe Pavelski Winnipeg Jets Connor Hellebuyck
Former San Jose Shark Joe Pavelski scores the game-winning goal in overtime on Winnipeg Jets’ goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Trevor Hagan)

Pavelski was known for more than his leadership in San Jose. His ability to score and his mastery of deflections made him a lethal presence on the power play, forcing the opposition to work tirelessly to keep an eye on him. Take a look at this goal from Game 7 against the Golden Knights. Here, Pavelski opens up the scoring with a beautiful deflection off Erik Karlsson’s shot. This highlight showcases Pavelski’s positioning on offense as well as his lightning-quick reflexes; two skills that will serve the Stars well in the future.

Pavelski: ‘Captain America’

During Pavelski’s tenure as captain of the Sharks, he earned the nickname ‘Captain America,’ after becoming the captain of Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey after just one season of wearing the ‘C’ in San Jose. Players and coaches must value his role as a leader on the ice if they’re willing to trust him so quickly. Since the 2015-16 season, Pavelski has led the Team USA through their biggest victories and their most heartbreaking shortcomings. He’s revered and respected throughout the league as a charismatic leader and a player who’s willing to put his everything on the line for his team.

Joe Pavelski, the captain of Team America, puts the Americans up 2-1

Before he was captain, Pavelski was already revered for his goal-scoring ability, helping Team USA win silver in the 2010 Olympics by scoring a game-tying goal with 25 seconds left on the clock against Team Canada. It seemed like the high-flying forward was destined for greatness; his role as captain seemed to bring that reality to life. In nine games as captain of Team USA, he’s scored two goals and five assists. Pavelski’s role as ‘Captain America’ was so iconic that the Sharks made a bobblehead of him dressed as the eponymous Marvel superhero.

Expectations for Pavelski

Pavelski left the Sharks with a number of records: He ranks second in goals scored in franchise history (355), and third in points (761) and assists (406). He will slot into a top-six role with the Stars, likely playing alongside either Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin or Roope Hintz and Dennis Gurianov. He can serve as a leader among the core roster, helping young players like Hintz and Gurianov adjust to their new roles as they play against tougher competition.

“He is a leader in every sense of the word, and a proven goal-scorer that continues to produce at an elite level. In meeting with him, it is evident how much he values winning, and that mindset will mesh perfectly with our leadership group.”

Jim Nill, general manager, Dallas Stars

Pavelski will also likely play on the power play, utilizing his goal scoring acumen and expertise with deflections to generate important goals alongside players like John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen. Additionally, it’s likely that he will be an alternate captain for the team due to his experience as a leader. It’s expected that he, along with Seguin and Benn, will be the faces of the franchise for the foreseeable future.

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At 35 years old, it’s unlikely Pavelski will be able to keep up the production he amassed in San Jose. Despite this, last season’s 38 goals indicate that he has plenty left in the tank. It is safe to expect him to easily put together another 30-goal, 60-point season without much trouble, especially if he plays alongside Benn and Seguin. Finding depth scoring without overpaying is a difficult undertaking. Thankfully, the Stars and Pavelski have found a perfect fit.

Are you excited to see Pavelski take the ice as a Star? Where do you think he’ll play in the lineup? Let us know in the comments below!